Hornets collect third straight win

Chris Bullock

What a great way to end your birthday if you’re Sacramento State’s Maranne Johnson.

With two seconds left in the game, Johnson took a pass from Ericka Magana and drained a 30-foot three-pointer to break a 91-91 tie with Eastern Washington to give Sac State their third straight win on Thursday night, a 94-91 road win in Cheney, Wash.

For the women’s basketball team (10-14, 7-6 in the Big Sky Conference), the win brought it above .500 in conference play. The win also evened the season series against second-place Eastern Washington (17-9, 11-3 Big Sky) for the second straight season, both teams winning on the road.

Sac State head coach Bunky Harkleroad was gracious for the win, and said the team fared better compared to their last encounter, a 100-83 loss at the Nest on Jan. 30.

“We’re happy (about the win),” Harkleroad said. “Anytime you can come to Eastern Washington and win, you should be happy. They don’t miss a lot of shots.”

Unlike the Jan. 30 game, where Sac State was outplayed most of the game, the Hornets kept their composure and led most of the game.

Sac State kept Eastern Washington on their toes for a majority of the first half, shooting from three-point range early and often. Johnson and Brianna Burgos made two threes a piece, with Magana, Abbey Goodsell, Adella Randle-El and Taylor Brown adding one a piece to keep Sac State on top to end the first half with a 54-49 lead. The Hornets attempted 27 threes compared to Eastern Washington’s seven in the half, and also kept the Eagle’s “big three” of Ashli Payne and sisters Delaney and Hayley Hodgins to 27 points.

The third quarter in this game, also unlike their last game against Eastern Washington, was very friendly to Sac State. Although they only outscored the Eagles 18-17, Sac State would enter the fourth quarter with a 72-66 lead.

With five and a half minutes left in the game, Sac State had an 81-74 lead before Eastern Washington roared back. An 11-0 run over the next three and a half minutes gave the Eagles an 85-81 advantage.

Sac State would not give in, however, as two quick layups pulled the game even at 85. Eastern Washington would get two more layups, but back-to-back three pointers by Randle-El would pull Sac State ahead 91-89 with 32 seconds left.

Eastern Washington’s Hayley Hodgins would draw a foul and make two free throws to tie the game at 91. With 11 seconds left, Magana would inbound the ball for Sac State, driving it up the court for an intended pass to Burgos. When she saw that Burgos was double-teamed, she passed the ball to Johnson, who let it fly for the winning shot.

One final three-pointer attempt by Hayley Hodgins was blocked by Sac State’s Ashlyn Crenshaw with one second left.

Eastern Washington, who had won four of their last five games before Thursday night, has fallen to a tie for second place in the Big Sky with Idaho, who happens to be Sac State’s next opponent.

Sac State will step onto the court on Saturday afternoon in Moscow, Idaho for a rematch with Idaho, who the Hornets lost 98-88 on Jan. 28. The game starts at 2 p.m., and can be streamed live at eversport.tv/big-sky.